How effective is a leadership development program?

Published on 30 November 2022 at 12:35

Leadership is one of the crucial success factors for organizations. Therefore, a lot of attention is given to leadership development programs. But how effective are these programs? Gerard Nauta (Planders) and Tom Koppelman (Net Change Factory) explain that we can only determine the effectiveness of these programs when we can objectively measure their impact.

Leadership has been extensively studied and written about, resulting in a multitude of forms and definitions. Even Boonstra alone presents five different definitions of leadership. This has led to confusion and debate about the most effective ways for leaders to develop.

Organizations often opt for general leadership development programs. For example, if the employee survey shows that servant leadership is not well-developed, it is not uncommon to create a program consisting of workshops, inspirational sessions, and coaching. With this additional input, the organization hopes to develop leadership in a way that aligns with its desired outcomes.

But do leaders actually develop themselves? It remains doubtful whether a general program takes sufficient account of the phase and situation in which the leader/manager finds himself. The specific context is rarely included in the development program, and the effect of the leadership program is not measured.

In terms of the Deming Circle, organizations tend to get stuck in the "plan" and "do" phases, with the "plan" phase based on general input.

Managing based on output

We believe that a good leader doesn't have just one style, but rather uses different styles situationally. One situation may call for more stimulating behavior: Are employees given enough freedom? Are they sufficiently engaged? Are obstacles being removed? Other situations may require a more directive approach: Do they understand the intention? Do they grasp the necessity?

If you could objectively determine this output - regardless of the management style - wouldn't the development program be much more effective? We think it would. The interventions are focused on the person and the situation. And the leader's development becomes visible in a follow-up measurement.

Measuring and targeted development

By measuring the output with Business Fitscan, independent of management style, a development cycle of measure-improve-measure-improve-measure, etc. becomes possible. In other words, output-input-output-input-output, and so on.

You start with a baseline measurement that also focuses on the specific context and the feedback that comes from it. This forms the basis for a development cycle (customized learning program), which is then followed by another measurement after a realistic period of application and retention. Based on an objective and independent measurement, the development program can be adjusted. This way, you go through the entire Deming Circle (plan-do-check-act).

It is not only about 'developing leadership,' but also about a leadership program based on effectiveness.

This article appeared on 30 november 2022  on www. - 2 mins. reading time